University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Ecological restoration of forests in Fennoscandia
Defining reference stand structures and immediate effects of restoration.
Doctoral dissertation, April 2006.
The first aim of this thesis was to explore the structural characteristics of near-natural forests and to quantify how human utilization has changed them. For this, we examined the stand characteristics in Norway spruce Picea abies (L.) Karst-dominated old-growth stands in northwestern Russia and in old Scots pine Pinus sylvestris L.-dominated stands in three regions from southern Finland to northwestern Russia. In the second study, we also compared stands with different degrees of human impact, from near-natural stands and stands selectively cut in the past to managed stands. Secondly, we used an experimental approach to study the short-term effects of different restorative treatments on forest structure and regeneration in managed Picea abies stands in southern Finland. Restorative treatments consisted of a partial cut combined with three levels of coarse woody debris retention, and a fire/no-fire treatment. In addition, we examined burned and unburned reference stands without cutting treatments. Results from near-natural Picea abies forests emphasize the dynamic character of old-growth forests, the variety of late-successional forest structures, and the fact that extended time periods are needed to attain certain late-successional stages with specific structural and habitat attributes, such as large-diameter deciduous trees and a variety of deadwood. The results from old Pinus sylvestris-dominated forests showed that human impact in the form of forest utilization and fire exclusion has strongly modified and reduced the structural complexity of stands. Consequently, small protected forest fragments in Finland may not serve as valid natural reference areas for forest restoration. However, results from the restoration experiment showed that early-successional natural stand characteristics can be restored to structurally impoverished managed Picea abies stands, despite a significant portion of wood volume being harvested. A variety of restoration methods is needed, due to differences in the condition of the forest when restoration is initiated and the variety of successional stages of forest structures after anthropogenic and natural disturbances.
Keywords: dead wood, disturbance dynamic, fire, near-natural stand, rehabilitation, succession
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Last updated 04.04.2006